Posted on September 11, 2012, Tuesday
KOTA KINABALU: The involvement of workers from Sabah in crime could be due to irresponsible agents who brought them to Singapore, said Assistant Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad.
She noted there have been cases where young people from the rural areas in Sabah were recruited and cheated by unscrupulous employment agency to work overseas, including in Singapore.
These agents, she said, promised the youngsters high paying jobs, only to force them to work for less than what was promised.
As a result, some of these workers tried to get out of their contract but have to take extra jobs in order to pay the transportation cost they owed to the agents.
The assistant minister was commenting on the new ruling imposed by Singapore on workers from Sabah and Sarawak after a series of crimes and fights involving rowdy native Sabahans and Sarawakians in the republic.
Fresh workers below 35 were barred entry while those within that age group and already working there could not renew their work permits after they expire within two years.
Jainab proposed that the Singaporean authorities liaise with the Sabah government to address the issue of rowdy workers, including screening them for criminal record.
She said this would help reduce chances of recruiting crime and violence-prone workers.
She also raised possibilities that those involved in crime in Singapore could not be from Sabah and Sarawak, or not even from Malaysia at all, as there have been cases in the past where other nationals posed as Malaysians to work in other countries using fake documentations.
Jainab added Sabahans are peace-loving people and were known across the country for their warmth and friendliness.
She said employers in Peninsular Malaysia liked to hire the young people from Sabah because they are hard working and do not cause much problem.
“You can see a lot of Sabahans working as staff and officers, especially in the hotel and services sector in the peninsula.
“I think a thorough study should be conducted with a view to maintain the good relationship between Sabah and Singapore,” she said suggesting the new ruling be lifted.
Jainab added the new ruling hurt the feelings of all Sabahans and Sarawakians. The Singapore government should not be barring everyone based on the action of a few.
“There are foreign workers involved in crimes anywhere, even here in Sabah, but we have never barred anyone from any country just because of what a few of their fellow countrymen did,” she said.
The Karambunai assemblywoman said Malaysia respected its neighbour’s rights to impose any laws but Singapore should study the matter further and not run the risk of causing “uneasiness” among the citizens of the two countries.
She expressed confidence that the Foreign Ministry in Putrajaya will sort the issue out with its Singaporean counterpart, adding that Malaysia and Singapore always have good diplomatic ties regardless of some minor issues in the past.
To those affected by the new ruling, she advised them not to be choosy and take up available jobs in Peninsular or return to work in Sabah.
She said while it was good to travel abroad to gain exposure and work experience, the young people should also consider working at home as there were ample job opportunities in various sectors locally.